Dancers start young at Northridge Elementary



    The Northridge Elementary School ballroom dance team, the only elementary school team to compete at the Dancesport national competition at BYU March 4-6, had one couple take first in the newcomer swing division.

    Krista Treu and Tyler Duffy, both 11 years old, have been dancing together for a year and a half. Duffy said his friends don’t like ballroom dancing, but they don’t make fun of him for participating. Duffy has been dancing ballroom for three years.

    This year was the couple’s first year competing in nationals, but they plan to continue dancing together. Treu hopes to earn a dance scholarship to put herself through college.

    Julie Petersen, a former BYU ballroom team dancer, is the ballroom dance adviser at Northridge Elementary School. Petersen said she formed the ballroom dance program a year after she began teaching at Northridge because she missed dancing.

    Faculty and parents have been so supportive, Petersen said. Since the team was formed three years ago, it has seen tremendous growth.

    Petersen said Northridge has four ballroom dance classes and one ballroom dance performance team, totalling 170 kids in all.

    With only two other teachers besides herself, Petersen said 170 kids is all she can handle at this time.

    “We have limited time, space, money and teachers,” Petersen said, “so kids know it’s a special thing to be on the dance team.”

    The attitude at Northridge Elementary School reflects their fine arts background, Petersen said.

    “It’s OK if you’re a boy and you want to sing. It’s OK if you’re a boy and you want to dance,” Petersen said.

    Cheryll Treu, Krista’s mother, was a BYU ballroom dance team back-up tour director for years, and before that she danced on BYU’s team. Cheryll now helps teach ballroom dance classes at Northridge Elementary before and after school.

    Cheryll said she enjoys coaching because it gives her a chance to interact with her children. The benefits her children receive keep her supportive of the ballroom classes.

    “The number one thing I like about the team is it has become an academic motivator,” Cheryll said.

    In order for any child to participate in ballroom dance at Northridge they are required to maintain a B average. Cheryll also likes ballroom dance because it teaches children life skills.

    “In no other sport do boys learn to be young men and girls learn to be young ladies,” Cheryl said.

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